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Hardball With Chris Matthews

News/Business. Leaders and newsmakers debate political issues. (CC)

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Ted Kennedy 24, Kennedy 12, Obama 9, Kennedys 8, Boston 8, Bobby 8, Msnbc 6, Orrin Hatch 5, Us 4, Keith Olbermann 4, Caroline Kennedy 4, Rachel Maddow 4, Washington 3, Cambridge 3, Brian Stokes Mitchell 3, Chris Dodd 3, Eugene Robinson 3, Brown 3, John Mccain 3, Mercury 2,
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  MSNBC    Hardball With Chris Matthews    News/Business. Leaders and  
   newsmakers debate political issues. (CC)  

    August 28, 2009
    5:00 - 6:00pm EDT  

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one, it's solemn. it gives people a moment to pause and reflect upon the life of an individual. and, secondly, it should be a happy occasion a time to reflect on some very memorial, very good memories, very strong memories of the person who had passed, but i just don't want politics, partisan politics being involve had had in memorial services. i don't think that's appropriate. >> ron, how emotional do you think tonight will be? >> i think it will be a very emotional evening. going back to your first question, i think caroline kennedy will give a very heartfelt remembrance of her late uncle. she was very close to senator kennedy. he took a solemn responsibility to make sure he was a strong father figure for them. i think the kennedy children, it's cousins, the nieces, the nephews will be there to reflect on this historic and great individual. >> your thoughts, roy, how emotional tonight? >> i think it will be extremely emotional. you will see john mccain, his good friend orrin hatch, joe biden, so i think it will be a
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little of the irish wake. there will be some funny stories. i think there will be some joy but i think there will obviously be a lot of tears as well. >> roy sekoff and ron christie, thanks for joining us tonight. appreciate your time here on "the ed show." i'm ed schultz. msnbc will carry senator kennedy's memorial service live tonight. our special coverage starts at 6:00 p.m. "hardball" with chris matthews starts right now. you're watching the place for politics, msnbc. irish wake. let's play "hardball."
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good evening. i'm chris matthews in new york. it's not just a man who passed away this week but an era that's now passed. it's not the new frontier figures like jfk, jackie, the irish mafia, kennow o'donney o'd lyndon johnson, it's the generation of massachusetts politician who is came later, tip o'neill and gary studs and top insiders like kirk o'donnell, and leo deal. they're all gone, and now eunice and teddy. the obituary page, the irish sports page. this year the traffic has been brisk, and not just in the political world. so what we're seeing right now is a victory not of violence or disease, but of time and change.
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the end of an era. the question is what is coming in to replace it? that's the big one. all day today and late into last night, tens of thousands paid their respects to senator kennedy at the john f. kennedy presidential library. tonight in a memorial service at the jfk library, the senator's life will be celebrated by speakers including john mccain, chris dodd, orrin hatch, john kerry, vice president biden. also, caroline kennedy. tomorrow, a funeral mass will be held at boston's our lady of perpetual help basilica, a church where the senator parade during his daughter's battle with cancer. president obama will deliver the eulo eulogy. he will be buried near his brothers at arlington cemetery. at 6:00 eastern time please join us for live coverage of the kennedy memorial service.
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tomorrow will be back with live coverage of the funeral mass beginning at 10:00 in the morning. with me now is "the washington pos post"'s eugene robinson and the former mayor of san francisco, willie brown. gentlemen, i can't think of two greater guys to have on to start our coverage tonight. i want gene to start and then mayor brown to pick up on this. the importance of this passing, i think it's an era, i think something really big is happening. it's not disease or violence that won this week. it's time. gene first. >> it is time, time that won, and time will always win. eras do begin and end. it's a very special thing that's ending right now though. not the kennedy mystique, but the kennedy substance, what the kennedys meant to the nation and especially to the democratic party. of course, started with jack,
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but then when bobby came along the kennedy name really came to represent a kind of liberalism that -- a kind of concern for those in our society who are neediest who have least, and ted kennedy then carried that on for decades, and he was always there, and since he was always there, that element, that concept, that concern for the poor was a central part of what the democratic party stood for, and it had a figure of such substance and vigor to represent that view, and now i think we're going to feel his absence in many, many ways. >> mayor brown, it seems to me
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that the kennedys were among perhaps a subset of the irish, the irish americans, who remembered what it was like when the irish were a minority back when they were the downtrodden. unlike some of the other irish who became middle class and upper middle class and became conservative republicans, for whatever reason the kennedys under a more conservative jack and ending up with a more liberal teddy said, no, we're going to stake our claim with the minorities. >> and that is exactly what ted kennedy did, but let me tell you, i don't think this is the end, frankly. as i observed, there are kennedys in maryland, there are kennedys in massachusetts, there are even kennedys by one method or another here in california in the form of maria shriver. i suspect that we have not seen the end of what the kennedys have meant to this country nor will we for a very long time. there are a whole lot of kennedys. >> okay. let's take a look at something.
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i want to get into something a little grittier right now. here is secretary of health and human services kathleen sebelius talking about the health care bill, and, of course, that's central to ted kennedy and his legacy. here she is. >> i think naming is a decision that the united states senate will make. i think passing it is the big first step and that's what senator kennedy would want. i hope also that if people are truly interested in honoring his legacy, and there's a lot of conversation about that, the best possible legacy is to pass health reform this year and have a bill that president obama could sign, and hopefully at every step along the way they will ask themselves what would teddy do and move it forward. >> well, gene, without getting too partisan, the grave robbers are already out, the ghouls, if you will, are out there already building the case that somehow the memorial tonight and tomorrow to ted kennedy and his belief in health care for
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everyone is somehow an exploitation. >> right. i have heard that. we've seen the stories, the rumblings and the nonsense in my view that's already been spewed on radio and elsewhere. health care was the cause of ted kennedy's life as he himself described it. we are in the middle of a huge and consequential argument, hopefully one that bears fruit, over health care, and it would be absurd not to recognize that context and the idea that to mention that, in fact, we are on the verge perhaps of reaching some of the health care reforms that he fought for for literally decades. that somehow mentioning that is out of bounds i think is
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ridiculous and they haven't even had the memorial service yet. i think it's ghoulish, inappropriate, and, frankly, just in awful taste. >> it seems odd, mayor brown, that the people on the far right, sort of the screeching right, the intemperate right, are already attacking what they think is a coming win one for the gipper mood when in fact win one for the gipper was pretty effective as a republican battle cry for all those years. >> there's no question about it, and they are, frankly, ruining any possibility that their criticism could ever be viewed as legitimate. when the secretary said what she said, she didn't say there is a bill. she didn't say these items of health reform. she simply said in a most civil and direct way this man lived his life in pursuit of health care for all. in view of the fact that we are where we are now and we are near the finish line, it would be
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highly appropriate when we reach those confrontations and can't figure out where to go, take a look and see what teddy would have done. that might be instructive. she didn't say that's the only way to solve it. she simply said that's one of the ways to solve it, and she didn't say it should be out of sympathy. she said clearly it should be out of honor and respect. i think that the right has gone too far in their criticism. they should wait for the we wellstone type speech before they come with the wellstone answer. >> well said. mr. brown, mr. mayor, my friend, close friend of the kennedys for generations, tonight is going to be so good. i was just reading chris dodd's remarks. i don't know if you gentlemen have seen it yet. it's unbelievably wonderful, and brian stokes mitchell is singing tonight. have you all heard him sing? he is the greatest singer today,
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a close friend of teddy kennedy's. he's going to sing "impossible dream" tonight and bring down the house. i just want to give you a chance in a nonmusical way right now, mr. mayor, who i respect all these years as an ally of the kennedys and tip o'neill, my old boss, i want you to take a moment and talk about ted. >> ted kennedy was for me, he's of my generation. there's no greater pride i could have in any politician than one who's charming, who's clever, who listens, and who succeeds in putting together a program needed for people in the most unselfish way. that's who ted kennedy was from willie brown's perspective, and i hope someone says something like that about me when i pass on. >> well, 100 years from now
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perhaps. let me go to eugene robinson, i will bestow on you the crown you've earned, pulitzer prize-winning columnist. sir, given your literary ability, a thought on ted ken kennedy. >> i think ted kennedy did something really remarkable. the youngest of this -- of nine children in this extraordinary family. he was never supposed to rise to the heights that was for joe or for jack or for bobby. for a long time i think the family didn't quite know how teddy was going to turn out. he was the prince who would never be king, yet he did this extraordinarily difficult thing to define for himself such a constructive role, such a meaningful role to become a titan of the senate, to fight
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for causes in which he believed so passionately, and to get results. it is so appropriate that brian stokes mitchell will be singing "the impossible dream." i have heard him sing that in man of la mancha, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house and this was just at the theater here in washington. tonight it will surely be a highly emotional moment, one that's entirely appropriate because he believed in the impossible dream, and he was -- and the emotion of that song and the optimism of that song i think just is perfect for who ted kennedy was. >> well, gentlemen, one of the great opportunities i have right now is to let you guys talk on television, and i really appreciate you coming on tonight. what an emotional night it's going to be as we get further and further into this passing of
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time and perhaps of the torch to barack obama. we'll see. eugene robinson of the "washington post," former mayor and former assembly sfeker willie brown of california. coming up, we'll talk to one of senator kennedy's colleagues allan simpson. a great friend of the senator's. allen simpson who knows what the old senate was like, the grand senate. friends across the aisle. the memorial service set to begin at 7:00 eastern tonight up in boston. there you see ted kennedy under the flag there. there's vicki kennedy, his wife and joe kennedy, his nephew, and we'll be spotting those people all night tonight as they pass before us. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. (announcer) before they give you the lowest price,
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welcome back to "hardball." we're about to hear from someone you're only going to hear from right now in this whole period of days and mourning. former republican senator from wyoming allen simpson. senator simpson, thank you for joining us from your wonderful reman tick trip to europe with annie, your wife. what do you want to say about ted kennedy, your old pal? >> well, chris, it's nice of you to call because ann and i feel very sorrowful we can't get back. we're on a cruise. it's our 55th wedding anniversary. we planned it for about a year. let me tell you, ted kennedy was a dear friend of mine. you don't have to agree with him, didn't have to judge him.
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we had a lot of fun together and we did a lot of work together because he was a master legislator. he believed in the 80/20 rule. if you can't get everything, get 80%. let the other 20% go over the hill and let them fight over that, but we had some wonderful times, and i grieve, i really do because -- and i think you know me well enough to know how much i cared about him. i kept sending him marvelous notes and messages filled with earthy commentary and he loved it. i know he did because vicki would wrote and say he just threw his head back and laughed. anyway, i shall miss him. >> you were lucky, not lucky, i was lucky to be your guest out there a couple weeks ago. i know it's a conservative part of the country, maybe not laramie, but the rest of the state. what was it like to be a friend of ted's and still get re-elected as a conservative in
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wyoming? >> well, it was about like if i walked down the street in boston with ted, and often -- we'd always get out there to the library, have some function. he and vicki would invite ann and i. people would look around and say what's he doing here? that's the way it works. i never could get him here, but i met him first in wyoming at sweeler's bar and grill in 1960 when he was campaigning for his brother. he went on to ride a horse at frontier days. he insists he rode the whole eight seconds, but he didn't, he got tossed off. and then he was in the congress and the senate with my father. he and my dad started together in '62 and when i got electeded in '78 the old man said, look, al, get to know kennedy. he didn't agree, but he caused
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his parents as much pain as you have caused your mother and i. >> let me ask you about mike enzi. i heard about your successor out there in the senate. he's playing quite a role, perhaps a bipartisan role, we'll see down the road, in this health care discussion. what do you think it's going to be? >> let me tell you, if he's in the game, you want to be sure that it could work. let me tell you, ted kennedy and mike enzi, when mike succeeded me, i went to ted and i said, ted, get to know this guy. don't judge him. he's another one of those republicans from wyoming, and he and ted kennedy, go look it up, did 28 bills together on health care, on quality of life, osha, and no one ever wrote about that. they did 28 bills together that went to be passed into law, and that's the way ted worked. if he were around this log jam would not be there. he'd go to henry waxman. he'd go to pelosi.
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he'd go to mcconnell and say, look, forget all this stuff. what the hell is going on? let's get it working. >> senator alan simpson, it's great. you and annie have a good time out there on your 55th. what an honor it is just to be married to her. that's bigger than being a senator i think for you. >> he sashe said it was like a religious experience, a living hell, no, she didn't. she loves me. we did face-off on mutual radio for eight years, ted kennedy and i. that's where it all started. >> i want to thank you, former united states senator, former son of a former senator and more importantly one of the leaders of the kennedy library and the kennedy institute of politics u. thank you, senator simpson. i am a huge fan of marty's
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because i remember many of his columns. you once said, tell me the reason why the kennedy library we're having this lying in state tonight is not at harvard? >> well, in 1963 in april, president kennedy went to speak at the 100th birthday of boston college, and i was in the motorcade following him like a lot of "globe" i goes and the motor gad went over to bryson and cambridge right here harvard and kennedy jumps out and is looking at it and he's choosing a site for his presidential library. presidential libraries go up quickly but not in boston, particularly not in cambridge. all the professors objected to having -- they didn't mind the library, but the museum would bring in all these school children, all these americans, you know. it was rather like when stanford rejected the reagan library. these professors are too important, more important than presidents. i don't think so. but one of ted kennedy's
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earliest supporters, robert c. wood, he's the author of "suburbia" he became president of u-mass out there in dorchester in the real working class section of boston, as you know, chris, right near dorchester in south boston, and he took jacqueline ken delaware -- kennedy onassis and said isn't it like, wouldn't jack like this, and she bought it. she didn't tell him when fred allen was a child he played in the mile road jump and so do z speaker mccormick, but wood was so smart to say see the great possibility there and now that's a thriving academic neighborhood with u-mass and bc high and the future edwards m. kennedy institute. >> you said the first time with the real cambridge intellectuals and waspy professors didn't want
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to see was all this catholic school buses coming into the cambridge to look at the remnants of the kennedy era. i like that. tell me about the kennedys. why do you think among the irish in boston they stayed liberal? in fact, got more liberal as i'm sure you know. teddy being more liberal than bobby. bobby more liberal than jack. why did they think of themselves as a minority, a little person, rather than joining the upper class like the other irish did? >> teddy was i think one of the few politicians that really enjoyed campaigning. a lot of them do it as a painful duty. teddy really enjoyed it. the older he got the more i think he resembled tip o'neill who really loved campaigning and loved to talk to ordinary people. that was a great gift because it infused and animated his own legislation. he combined the two. he had street smarts and he understood legislation. it's a great combination. >> tell me about the differences
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among the three brothers. you covered them all. >> oh, boy, bobby did not have much time for the senate. he was abrasive is too easy a word. dirkson told me once that when dirkson was approached by bobby about some legislation, asked for republican prospects, and dirkson in his deep voice said, well, senator, i think it's going to be difficult to get votes, and then bobby says, you've hated all the kennedys, don't you? dirkson said, no, i love jack, i love teddy. that was bobby, different. but i think jack was more between the two extremes, i think. teddy a real great street politician. bobby not, and jack somewhere in the middle. >> well-said. marty nolan, we miss you at the "globe." i hope "the globe" survives. >> it's doing one thing. it's a grand irish wake and as you understand and appreciate, ted kennedy is his own advance man for this.
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>> i used to say about tip o'nei o'nei o'neill, he was his own thanksgiving day parade float. let me ask you this, wait until you read or hear chris dodd tonight. wait until you hear chris dodd tonight. >> chris is a great pal of teddy's as we all know. >> marty nolan from boston now living in san francisco. up next, a preview of our documentary, "the kennedy brothers" as we continue our coverage of this night of tribute to ted kennedy, teddy. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. (announcer) illness doesn't care where you live... ...or if you're already sick... ...or if you lose your job. your health insurance shouldn't either. so let's fix health care. if everyone's covered, we can make health care as affordable as possible. and the words "pre-existing condition" become a thing of the past... we're america's health insurance companies. supporting bipartisan reform that congress can build on.
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year-long protection for on-the-go women. tonight at 10:00 eastern we will show "the kennedy brothers" again for those who missed it. also a great chance to catch up. there's so much to that hour. the incredible saga of these
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three brothers. it's about their enormous influence on this country. in this clip bobby kennedy follows in the footsteps of brother john and announces that he's running for president. this was in 1968. >> i do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies. >> robert kennedy's impassioned 1968 campaign had little in common with the well-oiled kennedy campaign machine that made jack president eight years earlier. >> the bobby kennedy campaign, what was different about that from what you remember and knew about the jack kennedy campaign? >> well, it was a lot less organized, as you know. my father was very ambivalent as to whether to run and so it was put together more on the haphazard way. it was his spirit that got through. >> there was this enormous,
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enormous surge everywhere he went of youthful enthusiasm. it was extraordinary. the grabbing and mauling him and snatching his cufflinks and kids on tricycles and bikes pumping along with the motorcade. >> it airs at 7:10 p.m. eastern. up next what does the death of senator kennedy mean for president obama? much more on this night of tribute to senator kennedy when we come back. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. don't blend in don't be ordinary, boring or bland in other words don't be so mayo
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i'm julia boorstin with your cnbc market wrap. a sleepy summer week ended in a sleepy summer fashion.
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the dow jones industrials are down 36 points, but about 40 points positive for the week. the s&p 500 is down two points and the nasdaq is up about a point. light late august volume is the story all week and could put a damper on market momentum but the s&p and nasdaq are on pace to complete a sixth straight month of gains. the nasdaq got an early boost from dell and intel. dell finished higher after posting a smaller than expected drop. intel shares added more than 4% after the chipmaker raised its third quarter outlook on increased demand. investors were less enthusiastic after rainstorms of an anemic rice in consumer spending. that's it from cnbc, first in business worldwide. now back to "hardball."
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over the past several years i have had the honor to call teddy a colleague, a counselor, and a friend, and even though we have known this day was coming for some time now, we awaited it with no small amount of dread. >> join me a joan walsh and john than. the other day rush limbaugh said i had done something he would have got in trouble for. please explain. i said that last year ted kennedy passed the torch of the kennedy brotherhood to barack obama making him the next kennedy, and it was so clear to everybody that's what was going on. he said if he had said something like that he would have been accused of making an ethnic slur because i used the word brother. i point out -- i said it at the time. not in an ethnic sense, not in a richelle sense, brother in the sense of sibling brother, actual
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brother. he jumped up and made himself into a victim again. what is the matter with these people? can't they take a week off? just take a week off. it's a funeral. take a week off from politics. >> if ted kennedy is one of the great senators of our time, rush limbaugh takes the crown as the great blowhard of our time. there's nobody who would have criticized rush limbaugh if he had talked about a brother because there's so many other things to criticize him for, other outrageous things that he says almost every day on the radio. so he's just blowing smoke. >> i think it's an attempt at victimhood. >> he loves the victimhood. he's also got all that anxiety about having to bend over for obama. >> that's a cutie. >> it's cute. he shows his anxiety in every way and what you said was the highest praise for obama. there was nothing ethnic, nos racial in it, it's just what happened. >> it was my highest tribute rushbo. >> do you think he's rooting for donovan mcnabb or michael vick? he spends a good part of his broadcasting career saying mcnabb doesn't have it.
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do you think he will be rooting for him to lose the starting qb spot? >> he probably would go for the dog killer. >> let me ask you about this attempt at footsteps here on the part of the right to interrupt this -- i called them ghouls a few minutes ago. grave robbers. they're trying to get into this story by saying the democrats are going to do a win one for the gipper. to me if murphy served his country, we'd say let's try to do something as well. let's try to be equally as courageo courageous. if somebody dies in a battle, you say let's try to carry it on, carry the banner forward. that seems to be very american. they're turning that on the right as some kind of, well, they better not try that. >> we've seen this before and the year was 1964. john f. kennedy has been assassinated. lyndon johnson said let's pass the civil rights act as a memorial to the slain president, and the right wing at that time said that it was improper. the bill was passed and ted
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kennedy told me once that it was one of the top three accomplishments of the united states senate in all the years he was there. >> of course it was and, you know, passing a great health care reform bill would be another signature accomplishment and he deserves it. no one is dictating what should be in the bill, but to say that's playing politics is just ridiculous. >> isn't it amazing the add that overcomes people in a political sense. how many times have you heard win one for the gipper? it's hilarious. it's a hoot. now they're saying don't do what we do. >> i'll give you another example of that. you hear a lot of the conservatives nowadays saying we have to stop this health care bill to protect seniors, right? they're pandering -- >> keep government out of medicare. >> we're the folks who did
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everything they could to stop medicare and as recently as last year they were trashing medicare and now they're arguing that, you know, this bill has to be defeated to defend medicare. it's insane. >> they're acting like the people in the first lifeboats getting off the titanic, beating off the other survivors so they don't crowd the boats, right? >> absolutely. it is ghoulish. it's truly ghoulish. i know it will be a wonderful memorial. i know it will. senator kennedy deserves that. i don't see anyone booing the republicans. i'm not a booer. i'm a baseball fan. i don't even boo the dodgers. i think that's wrong, but -- >> you won't be too welcome in philly. >> i actually like the phillies, chris. >> no, i'm talking about the fans. >> a great norm coleman victory. >> let me go back to a couple speakers tonight. caroline kennedy who is not a politician. that's established. joe biden who is certainly. john coal bukocoal coburn.
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tommy manino. brian stokes mitchell will give the greatest political speech of the night which will be the impossible dream speech when he sings that song. that's going to be the inspiring moment tonight. >> that's my dad's favorite song. so it's very moving. >> and i've heard him give that song. and orrin hatch. among the republicans tonight in apparently this partisan festival the voices you will hear are orrin hatch of utah, john mccain of arizona. so i don't think they can really put this down as a paul wellstone -- >> hatch make it is really hard, and hatch and kennedy had a really special relationship, and kennedy was there for hatch. he showed up in utah at a funeral of somebody very close to orrin hatch, and from that day on the two really connected, and they worked together on a lot of legislation, but even when they bitterly opposed each other on the substance, they were very close personally.
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>> do you have a sense that this death of ted kennedy will have any effect whatever on whether we get get a deal on health care, a deal ma makes the liberals happy enough, the conservatives moll fied enough that something can get through? >> jonathan and i may differ. i don't think he's going to get republican votes even if they throw the public option overboard. i appreciate and honor senator kennedy's friendship with orrin hatch, but there's been an element of trying to drag out ted would have made this work. you know, hatch and mccain had the chance to vote for ted kennedy's bill in ted kennedy's committee. >> mccain was on that health committee. he could have voted for it. >> let me ask you this. i'm still a believer it's possible to get to 60 in the senate and 218 in the house with smart legislation thinking here, maybe a one or two-step process, maybe not everything, a trigger of some kind of some kind of
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major historic commitment of health care for everybody. an enrollment of everybody. >> i agree with joan it's not going to be done with significant republican support, but they are going to need a couple. they will need olympia snowe and maybe susan collins. >> at least one. >> and so -- and they're going to need those moderate democrats some of whom are getting unenthusiastic like joe lieberman. the idea that this is going to be rammed through with all the things the democrats want, it's unrealistic and unted kennedy. >> i'll give you my premise. i'll tell what you i think and then say do you agree or not. i think the keys are within the democratic party. they need to have a meeting and write a bill. if they can get 60 they will get somebody from massachusetts appointed in the next couple weeks. that's going to happen. they will get 60 democratic senators. the question is can they get the 60 democratic votes. that's the key to me.
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if they can do that, they will have a bill. it'ses a simple as that. 60 democrats will make this happen. will they get them? >> i think they will, but they will have to tell the liberals particularly on the house side, this idea of drawing a line in the sand, this idea of a public option or not is not going to work. if they can't get it, if the system doesn't allow that, they have to do what fdr did, what lbj did, and what ted kennedy did over and over again, and that is not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. >> i think we need to make our insurance companies public utiliti utilities, regulate them. treat them like oil or electric companiie companies. >> there's not the votes.
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>> you don't want a bill? >> i do want a bill. >> how are you going to get 60 votes? >> i don't know. i'm praying to teddy. >> there's many, many other extremely important things -- >> okay. up next, keith olbermann and rachel maddow will join me to preview tonight's memorial. this is "hardball" only on msnbc. i'm racing cross country in this small sidecar, but i've still got room for the internet. with my new netbook from at&t. with its built-in 3g network, it's fast and small, so it goes places other laptops can't. i'm bill kurtis, and i've got plenty of room for the internet. and the nation's fastest 3g network. gun it, mick. (announcer) sign up today and get a netbook for $199.99 after mail-in rebate. with built-in access to the nation's fastest 3g network. only from at&t. but did you know you also get hotel price assurance?
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when we're in a sandwich you'll know it we are our own mixed up blend of one of a kind spices we are miracle whip and we will not tone it down
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we're back and i'm joined by my colleagues keith olbermann and rachel maddow. the three of us will bring you live coverage of the memorial service tonight. i expect it's going to be a long evening. one thing before we get into this ceremony tonight is to remind ourselves what's at stake in american politics. let's start with the issue that really drove the barack obama campaign, drove the democrats victory in 2006. the iraq war. let's not forget ted kennedy voted against both iraq wars. i happen to support those positions. i think it was wrong to get involved in that part of the world and get involved as deeply as we did initially. it seems to me that was the key thing that defined the success of the barack obama campaign, the role ted kennedy played.
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to me that was the great coincidence, barack obama and ted kennedy thought u.s. policy in that part of the world was wrong. >> when kennedy made that momentous decision that he was going to endorse obama over the express wishes of both clintons that he stay out of it, if he felt like he couldn't endorse hillary clinton, that was reinforced that as the most important cleavage in the democratic field. hillary clinton had voted for the war in iraq. she's voted for the use of force, even though she said she was disappointed with how it went on. >> and her husband supported the first war. >> kennedy had been against both of them. by siding with obama it crystallized that as the issue that made a difference. >> and obviously it connected the two men. ifout. if you're in a bunker with somebody, and the war analysis is entirely inappropriate, we're talking about people voting against a war, but we're talking about politically, anybody who stood up at that point in 2002, 2003 and said no, this is wrong,
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i don't care what you're doing in this country, i don't what we think is going to happen there, this is not the correct response. so to a certain willingness to see the big picture and i think that's what connected kennedy to obama in the first place. i think that's how you would get through the front door with ted kennedy i would imagine. >> and tonight, as we look forward and talk backwards, the president, and i have called him the next brother, kind of like the last brother, the next brother, he's taken the torch from the kennedys and whatever he does with it we'll have to see. he hasn't done it yet, that's what i would say. he has yet to command the leadership of this country on policy as president. what do you think? >> one of the questions about ted kennedy's enforcement of obama and the way that he identifies with him so strongly, it's certainly a question for me is whether or not he got a commitment from obama in universal health care, would it
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be truly universal, would it be everybody and nobody out? was that the agreement between them? would oba take universal care e yet in the name of ted kennedy. >> i promised teddy, we don't know exactly what the promise was, was it a full bill, was it any bill? and that's the ultimate issue. and i wondered to what degree though that as much as that's an obama kennedy promise that it plays out against the backdrop of the senator's death, to what degree can even this president, no matter what his influence might be, influence that? >> you were watching as we talk here, we're watching the kennedy closest family, and caroline kennedy is getting out of that car right there, the camera hasn't quite caught up with them, walking into the kennedy library, i guess there's a question there,
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thinking exactly how it gets done. to me, the important question is will or will it not? there's all kinds of smart legislating that could be done, trigger mechanisms, there's ways to get where you have to get. i have looked at the transition of these bills, how did we get the civil rights? the first shot, eisenhower, a bill that the teeth was taken out of it because of the jury trial. when is the critical point of no return when you say we're going to universal coverage and how do you get on that courser rev cably. when is the decision made that we're going to universal health? >> i was looking at lists of kennedy's achievement and the things that he really championed on the issue of health care. he made a key decision that he really wanted to prioritize the health committee in the senate. he really wanted to go with
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health. you look at the litany of things he did. the americans with disabilities act, the life care act. the way that he expanded existing commitments that we had made on health care and ways that looked momentous at the time and in perspective looking back, you realize they're big incremental escapes. >> a very concerted guy who pointed out, this is the way they'll do it if they're smart. not that he advocates it, he's more fearful of it. we'll be back with keith olbermann and rachel maddow, as we wait for the memorial of ted kennedy. (announcer) before they give you the lowest price,
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we're back with keith olbermann and rachel maddow. i am confounded by the number of people who have offered personal testimony, not just about this man's legislative work, but personal, personal accounts of personal compassion. not theoretical, i love mankd